Sweden and Finland join NATO. The policy of their non-alignment in the past, as well as the term “Finlandization”.
In truth, militarily, they have long been ready. But politically they were pushed by the full-scale war that Russia unleashed against Ukraine on February 24th.
Putin claims that he had no choice because otherwise NATO, which is constantly moving closer to Russia’s borders, would have attacked him. The crazy head of the Kremlin claimed that if the Alliance’s missile infrastructure appeared in Ukraine, the flight time to Moscow would be reduced to 5-10 minutes.
Interestingly, what will be the flight time from Finland to St. Petersburg now? After all, the Finnish border with St. Petersburg is only 200 km away. Putin’s worst dream has become a reality. He was so afraid of NATO approaching his borders that he got the opposite. If now Russia directly borders the Alliance only on the border with Estonia and Latvia, and indirectly through Kaliningrad, then very soon a long Finnish border will also be added. And this is plus 1300 km.
TSN. ua figured out how Putin can respond to the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO, and what of this to Ukraine.
Reply to the Winter War
“It will probably be the fastest NATO expansion in history and will redraw the security map of Europe.” This is how The Time article about the entry of Finland and Sweden into the ranks of the Alliance begins. The first has already officially announced the application. The second is expected to do so on Monday, May 16th.
Until February 24, the citizens of these countries did not even think about joining. In Finland, for example, accession support fluctuated between 20-30%. Now this figure is 70%. In Sweden it was traditionally slightly higher, but now it has also increased to almost 60%.
Such a difference is possible precisely because Finland directly borders on Russia, and the memories of the Winter War of 1939-1940. and about who the Russians are, for a long time imprinted in the memory of the Finns. Like Putin now, Stalin did not declare war on Finland either. Indeed, the last time Russia declared war was in 1914. But for some reason Putin prefers not to remember how it ended.
In turn, his idol Stalin called the war against Finland “defensive” in order to move the border away from Leningrad at that time. Doesn’t it remind you of anything? This war was made possible by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. And, according to some reports, the USSR wanted to capture all of Finland, but ran into the desperate resistance of the Finns. But the country still lost about a tenth of the territory.
Yes, Sweden and Finland are joining NATO now because they don’t want to fight Russia in the future. Estonian President Alar Karis is right when he says that now the Kremlin simply does not have enough military resources to respond to the next wave of the Alliance’s expansion. According to Western intelligence, many troops from the western region of Russia near Finland were sent to the war against Ukraine, and suffered heavy losses.
But it would be unfair to say that Finland and Sweden are admitted to NATO in advance. Helsinki has been buying dozens of American F-35 fighters for a long time, and Stockholm has its world-famous Gripen.
According to Mikhail Samus, Deputy Director of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament for International Affairs, Sweden is the main element of defense in the Baltic direction, a leader in the development and export of defense technologies: Gripen fighters, underwater vehicles, anti-ship missiles, armored vehicles.
“Finland is also famous for its attitude to defense. After the war with the USSR, it was seemingly neutral, but, like Sweden, it was included as much as possible in the military structure of NATO and allied relations with the United States. Finland has powerful territorial defense. It is from the Finnish model that Ukraine draws its ideas. The Baltic countries are learning in Finland. Therefore, in terms of integration into strategic plans for the use of the Armed Forces, Sweden and Finland have long been members of NATO, “explains TSN.ua Mikhail Samus.
The expert also adds a very interesting point: about 95% of Finns are ready to fight for their nation. And this is of course because they are close to Russia and already have their own experience of a deadly, arrogant and cynical war on the part of Moscow.
“Given the overall contribution of Sweden and Finland to the common defense of NATO, this is just a terrible blow for Russia. I think they did not expect such a quick decision from the Alliance. After all, there was an agreement with Russia on Finland that it should remain outside NATO. This is still the consequences of the Cold war. This is where the term “Finlandization of Ukraine” came from. And now the Ukrainization of Finland is taking place,” Mykhailo Samus concludes.
Russia is already threatening Sweden and Finland.
First, according to Dmitry Polyansky, Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, after joining NATO, Sweden and Finland will become possible targets for the Russian military.
Secondly, Dmitry Medvedev , Putin’s former successor in the presidency, once again reminded the West of nuclear war.
Thirdly, Russia, as a revenge, can completely shut off the gas valve to Finland. Although it would still have happened on May 23 if Gazprom had not received the payment in rubles.
You can no longer surprise Europe with gas blackmail. But what about nuclear? Western analysts argue that Russia can usually deploy nuclear weapons in the Baltic region. However, the Kremlin has long since deployed nuclear warheads in Kaliningrad. And on the Kola Peninsula (this is southeast of Murmansk) there is generally the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet.
What’s up with this Ukraine
But the Russian threat should not be underestimated. Therefore, the UK concluded an agreement with Finland and Sweden on mutual security guarantees. What does it mean? It will take some time from the application submission to the actual receipt. Even if the accession of Sweden and Finland is announced at the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June, it still takes time for the necessary documents to be ratified by all 30 member states.
That is, in reality, Sweden and Finland will be able to become members of the Alliance only by the end of 2022. All these 7 months they are a living target of Russia. So who should guarantee their safety. And the United Kingdom has become such a guarantor.
Ukraine is very worried about the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO. Especially Sweden, which has been consistently supporting Ukraine for a very long time. It will not only strengthen the Alliance, but also get the right to influence NATO policy from within, which is very beneficial for Ukraine.
On the other hand, everything that Finland and Sweden are now getting is not even on the horizon for Ukraine. Yes, we are not as prepared to join as these two Scandinavian countries. However, we must honestly admit that if we had not been denied accession to NATO at the time, perhaps this bloody war could have been avoided.
“It was not Kiev’s desire to join NATO that prompted Russia to go to war against Ukraine. Rather, the very absence of NATO in Ukraine allowed Russia to invade. If Ukraine were in NATO, Russia would have to fight against the entire Alliance, given the United States. This is the lesson that has now been learned Stockholm and Helsinki – and NATO,” says the Politico article “If Finland and Sweden join NATO, it will be through Russia.”
In an interview with TSN.ua, Bundestag deputy from the defense policy group Markus Faber said: due to the fact that Russia is now busy with the war in Ukraine, it cannot simultaneously invade Finland, which is why both Finland and Sweden are in such a hurry to join NATO. That is, they got their window of opportunity. But will Ukraine ever get it? Because we are not even given mutual security guarantees.
According to Alexander Merezhko, chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Foreign Policy, the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO weakens Moscow, as Russia’s border with the countries of the Alliance grows larger, and it will be forced to stretch its forces. And, perhaps, to distract them a little from the war against Ukraine.
“Putin miscalculated by embarking on a new armed aggression against Ukraine. He hoped not only to occupy Ukraine, restore the Soviet empire, but also weaken NATO and prevent its expansion. However, in the end he got the opposite result,” Merezhko said.
As for Ukraine, according to him, among the NATO member countries there are those who are afraid that Ukraine’s accession to NATO will now lead to a direct conflict with Russia. Some politicians from these countries have been intimidated and blackmailed by Putin, using such arguments as “conflict escalation”, “possibility of a third world war”, “possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons”. However, these arguments are not convincing because Putin only understands force.